Jon Cooke, CEO of the Guild and Fine & Country parent company Epropservices says Covid has forced the property industry to evolve “ten years within a few months”.
This has hastened a natural progression from high street surveying firms which offered estate agency ‘on the side’ during the 1950s onwards past the brand-led corporate models typified by Countrywide into the noughties.
Now, Cooke (leff) contends, the pandemic has created an opportunity for the move flexible ‘third way’ for the property industry to take hold as the pandemic restrictions persuade “more agents to re-evaluate the way they work”.
“Individuals will possibly work remotely and will be less reliant on a high street office, however, they will work with an umbrella organisation that will provide them with leads, marketing, technology and the ever increasingly important compliance,” he says.
“Before lockdown there was already a growing trend in the industry of agents moving away from the high street estate agency model and moving towards more flexible options that offered them the ability to work from anywhere, greater earning potential and the support of a network.”
Agents may be forgiven for assuming Cooke has a vested interest in this property industry approach given ePropservices owns Fine & Country, which uses self-employed agents rather than employees. But he is not alone.
At the same time Cooke was speaking, London estate agency Douglas & Gordon’s CEO James Evans (left) revealed that it is developing a software system that will enable its staff “work seamlessly and completely mobile [and] negate the need for an office,” he told Computer Weekly magazine.
Evans said he believes the world of branches is going to change and “a huge proportion of what people can do can be completed remotely.”